Looking Back on the Free Library’s First All-Virtual Summer of Wonder!

By Emily S. RSS Fri, September 11, 2020

In this unprecedented time, the Free Library has had a lot of firsts. We pulled together to bring you our first virtual Summer of Wonder with the help of librarians and library staff, camp counselors, teachers, caregivers, activists, and youth from communities across Philadelphia.

Our summer artwork was brought to you by a teen artist for the first time in the summer program’s 100-year history! Check out our interview with up and coming art star and animator, Deyania Sanders.

Our very first all virtual Summer of Wonder was bigger than ever, with over a thousand learning activities completed and 100,000 reading minutes logged! We were wowed by the hundreds of thoughtful book reviews written and the thousands of badges earned. Thank you to everyone who participated! And be sure to sign up for the Free Library’s virtual Fall Reading Challenge!

What else did we get up to this historic summer?

Throughout the Free Library, neighborhood branches brought you storytimes and maker crafts, book clubs and art projects, doggy read-alouds and building clubs. We kept calm and carried on with virtual yoga for all ages, mindfulness meditation, movement, and dance.
For Pride Month, we explored LGBTQ+ history, discussed healthy sexuality and gender-exploration for teens, enjoyed trivia with our fabulous drag queen storytellers, and shared our own unique modes of self-expression on virtual Pride Dress-Up Day!
We honored Juneteenth with picture books, and a reading by playwright Momo St. Clair from their new work, Mr. Dubois. We heard Philly Youth Speak Out against trauma in schools during Black Lives Matter Action Week. We shared African-American history and learned to cook in the healthy food traditions of the African diaspora. At Youth Services and Programs, we believe and affirm that Black Lives Matter each and every day.
Read, Baby, Read went virtual on Instagram with literacy and caregiving tips to nurture our youngest learners. The LEAP team on Facebook taught us how to make ice cream during quarantine and encouraged us to tend to our mental and emotional well-being with daily self-care.
On our Early Learning’s Youtube channel, we learned to hula hoop through social distance and process our back-to-school feelings with Jade! And educators shared teacher tips and gathered virtually for a discussion about making classrooms more inclusive.
We enjoyed a wealth of daily activities and programs on the Youth Services Facebook page! Did you catch our weekly Wednesday live performances? It’s not too late! Check out the Being Bilingual Rocks concert with Alina and Hamlet, Mario the Maker Magician, or Yasu Ishida’s Storytelling Origami Show. Plus, you can still meet the goats of the Philly Goat Project on Youtube.
And it wasn’t all online! In cooperation with Philadelphia Parks & Rec, the Playstreets program had tons of safe outdoor fun and learning in Philly neighborhoods. At the end of our Summer of Wonder, they distributed books, backpacks, school supplies, and literacy games to families in Kensington and around the city! 

The Summer of Wonder 2020 was full of surprises, and we’re so glad you came along for the ride! Join us for more virtual adventures in the back-to-school season with the Free Library’s Fall Reading Challenge.


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